Welcome Society readers to another Fonz’s Sunday Summary. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and Santa got you something special. A lot of stuff to talk about this week so let’s get started.
1. Christmas Day game recap
Let’s start off the weekly summary with one of the most exciting/important days of the NBA Season: the Christmas Day games. First off, the league and Adidas got it right this year with the uniforms. The script font with the team’s respective bright colors really made these special edition jerseys unique from the other jerseys worn during the season. Not to mention they definitely beat last year’s jerseys with the player’s first name on the back, or the year before that, with the sleeved ones. So that in itself was a good start to the day.
The first game of the day was the New Orleans Pelicans against the Miami Heat. While it was one of the uglier games due to so many bad shots and sloppy offense, it was still competitive. The Heat ended up winning the game in overtime 94-88, much thanks to the Chris Bosh, who dropped 30 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Dwyane Wade, who is now 10-1 on Christmas, scored 19. Anthony Davis showed his stuff on his Christmas debut, scoring 29 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Davis had an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation but missed a jumper with little time left. Ryan Anderson also had a good game scoring 18 points off the bench. From there on, however, it was all Miami Heat. With this win the Heat now have the best record on Christmas at 17-11.
The second game of the day was between the struggling Chicago Bulls and the “underrated” Oklahoma City Thunder. I use the term underrated because the Thunder are 3rd in the Western Conference with a 20-10 record, but they are still not really talked about due to the Warriors being the Warriors and San Antonio also dominating. But back to the game, which featured two teams with a couple of All-Stars going at each other for four quarters. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were their usual selves, scoring 29 and 26, respectively. Pau Gasol had 23 points and 13 rebounds while Jimmy Butler scored 23. The matchup between Durant and Butler was the most intriguing one-on-one matchup of the day in my opinion because we know what the former MVP can do, but Jimmy Butler showed us again that he is going to be a star in this league.
Now let’s look at the most popular game watched this past Friday. Warriors against Cavaliers in a 2015 Finals rematch, and it did not disappoint. Well, besides LeBron James missing two key free throws in the closing minutes of the fourth. It wasn’t the draining threes from the Splash Brothers that helped Golden State win. It was the defense led by Draymond Green that held Cleveland to just 32 percent shooting from the field. Most figured that with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving would help the Cavs but that was not the case. Love only scored 10 points on 5-of-16 shooting (including 0-for-5 from three) and Irving scored 13 on 4-for-15 shooting (going 0-for-6 from three).
The Rockets had probably their best win of season beating the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs 88-84. It was a low scoring defensive battle between both teams and in the end the improved Rockets took home the W. For the Spurs it was the lowest they scored this season and the loss also broke their 7-game winning streak. I give the Rockets credits for their impressive win, but I want to turn my attention to Kawhi Leonard for a second. Like I said about Jimmy Butler being a star, the same can be said for the Spurs Kawhi Leonard. He did just about everything, scoring 20 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. He also had 4 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks. He did basically everything for this team and after playing under Coach Pop and players like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker, Leonard’s potential is through the roof.
Now to the last game, the battle of Los Angeles between the Clippers and Lakers. What made this game special was that it was Kobe Bryant’s last Christmas game as he continues on his farewell tour around the league. What seemed like a lop-sided contest in the beginning, which included Larry Nance Jr. scoring on his own basket, turned out to be a more competitive game in the fourth quarter. The Clippers had a 85-57 lead in the fourth which led to both sides clearing out their benches for garbage time opportunity. That ended up rallying the Lakers to bring the gap to 87-72, which caused Clippers coach Doc Rivers to bring back his starters. The Clippers ended up winning the game 94-84, while interestingly enough Byron Scott sat out Bryant for the entire fourth quarter.
2. New York, we missed you on Christmas
As a fan, I have always been use to seeing the New York Knicks play on Christmas. Before this season the Knicks have played on December 25th for the past six years. The league decided not to schedule New York for that day largely in part of the team’s dismal 17-win season last season. But at the same time, why were the Lakers playing? Last time I checked they had just as bad of a record as New York did last season, and this season they are not doing much better.
Then again, I do understand. It’s Kobe Bryant, everyone wants to see him on Christmas, but nothing beats the city of New York. Plus it would have been great to see Kristaps the God doing his thing on the court and rocking a santa hat after the game. I’m probably biased here, but the league messed up in not giving the Knicks a chance to play on Christmas, and I think in the next offseason it will not happen again.
3. All-Star vote leaders revealed
Earlier this week, the NBA revealed the first round of voting results for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game starting lineup. Fans can vote online for two guards and three front court players to represent the East and West for the All-Star Game. The top five players with the most votes so far are Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade, in that order.
— 2016 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) December 25, 2015
What I found surprising is that Kyrie Irving is second behind Wade for the East guards list. Irving is a good player, but he just came back from an injury this week, so I think it is unfair to say that he should be in the starting lineup. Guys like Kyle Lowry, John Wall or Jimmy Butler deserve to be in the top two for votes. It is also nice to see that Paul George and Andre Drummond are getting recognition as they are second and third, respectively, to LeBron in the East front courts. For the West, we knew Kobe would be on top going on with his final tour in the regular season, and guys like Curry, Durant, and Russell Westbrook were givens. So nothing shocking for me in the Western Conference.
But for now, if the voting ended the today the lineups would be:
- East: Kyrie Irving, Dwyane Wade, Paul George, LeBron James, Andre Drummond
- West: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin
4. The rise of the NBA D-League
This week the Washington Wizards signed Jarrell Eddie of the Austin Spurs, a minor league team in the D-League. He played well for Washington, playing a key role for them scoring 12 points in a winning effort against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. The D-League has come a long way since its start in 2001. What started off as an eight-team league has now been expanded to 19 teams. Next season it will continue to grow as three new teams will be added in Greensboro, NC (Charlotte Hornets), Hoffman Estates, IL (Chicago Bulls) and Uniondale, NY with the Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets).
The NBA is starting to make great use of the minor league. In the first season only eight players were called up, and during the 2014-2015 NBA season, 47 players were called up. It’s good for young guys on the team who don’t get enough NBA playing time and teams will assign them to improve their game. Some guys were sent down to rehab from an injury, like what the Pistons are doing with Brandon Jennings. Last season, 38% of the NBA rosters had D-League experience, and from the looks of it being expanded I can definitely see that number going up to 50% in a couple of seasons. The NBA is in progress of having a 30-for-30 system in the near future, meaning that every NBA team will have their D-League affiliate. Every current D-League team (19 + 3 next season) is owned by an NBA team. The only NBA teams without a club are the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Wizards. I can see that list dropping down to zero within the next five seasons.
5. Top plays of the week
Besides the Christmas games there was a lot of excitement this week in the NBA (December 20th-27th)
5. Kawhi Leonard with the steal and slam at the other end.
Slowly but surely, this guy is going to be the next superstar.
4. Alec Burks with the poster dunk!
Trevor Bookers reaction is priceless.
3. Alec Burks with another one (DJ Khaled voice)
DeAndre is use to giving out the posters not receiving them.
2. Paul Millsap embarrasses Jason Smith
The dunk. A+. Those ugly red jersey grey pants combination? Not so much.
1. Jared Cunningham takes flight
Check his shoes! I think he has springs in them.